How to Get a Mentor

Gain a mentor, advance your career
As a new graduate or entry level employee, you’re doing your best to make a strong impression and earn the trust of your employers and clients. But sometimes hard work, punctuality, and attention to detail can only carry you so far; you also need to gain the social and technical skills that can take you to the next rung. Since you’re new at this game, you can’t begin to fathom concepts you don’t know yet. Closing knowledge gaps and gaining ground can be difficult to manage all by yourself. An official mentor can help you set your course and stay on track.These four simple tips can help you identify an appropriate mentor, approach this person, and start getting the help you need.

Consider hard qualifications

As you sift through your network in search of a potential mentor, you’ll choose someone you like and admire (that’s a given). But at the same time, try to keep your reasoning focused on concrete traits, not abstract ones. Don’t just choose someone because you enjoy the company; keep an eye out for specific technical skills your prospective mentor can teach you, and look for evidence of a career path and a set of ambitions that resemble your own.

It’s okay to be formal

If you choose, you can informally chat with your chosen mentor and present the idea. You can say something as simple as, “I hope you’ll consider becoming my mentor.” But it’s also acceptable to send a formal message in writing, and obtain a formal agreement. In doing so, this person will recognize that the job comes with actual responsibilities.

Be specific—or not

As long as you stay polite, it’s okay to set up framework for the relationship. (For example: meet once per week for 10 minutes to answer your questions and discuss your progress.) But if you allow your mentor to create the structure and rules of this partnership, and he or she agrees to do so, you may learn and gain more. If your mentor suggests meetings, assigned readings, or anything else, keep an open mind.

Follow up with your mentor

Too often, both agree to the partnership, the mentee cheerfully says thank you, and the parties move on and conduct their lives as before, each assuming the other will take responsibility for next steps. If your mentor doesn’t take the reins, follow up. Schedule meetings, ask for assignments, and keep track of the questions you’d like to ask during your sessions and exchanges. Some last-minute cancellations may occur, but don’t let that deter you. After all, your mentor deals with higher levels of responsibility than you do; that’s why you launched this arrangement in the first place. Be patient, polite, and persistent.For more on how to find a mentor and establish a partnership that benefits both of you, explore the guidelines and resources on MyPerfectResume.